AMIT S-NGIJPTA (ED.) Drug Industry and the Indian People, Delhi Science Forum and the Federation of Medical Representatives Associations of India, 1986, pp. 339. Price : Hardback Rs. 100 and Paperback Rs. 40.
LIKE MANY other policies of the Indian government, its health policy is also not a 'people-oriented' one. The drug policy, an important component of the health policy, has always been in favour of the multinational corporations, which control a large share of the drug market. It has been inhibitory to small entrepreneurship and to the public sector; the latter does not receive necessary encouragment from the government.
The stranglehold of MNCs on the pharmaceutical market is being increasingly felt in the Third World. During the last decade or so, those actively engaged or interested in people's health have been trying to focus public attention on the unethical and blatantly profit-oriented practices of the multinational drug companies in the Third World and have been fighting, for a more independent drug market. The movement was pioneered by people like Salvador Allende of Chile and Zafrullah Chowdhury of Bangladesh. Those active in India include such organisations as the Medico Friends Circle, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, Federation of Medical Representatives Associations of India and so on.
In 1985 and 1986, a number of seminars were held in different parts of India to discuss and publicise the existing drug policy, which is totally irrelevant to the current health situation in India. This became a pressing issue because the government was threatening to formulate a fresh policy tod concerned groups considered a public debate essential, prior to its formulation. The fact that the government has announced the new Drug Policy in December 1986, without lending even a courtesy ear to the demand and that the further concessions announced are a total sell-out to the MNCs, makes it all the more important and urgent that the policy be widely publicised and the drug action movement be given a larger dimension.
The book under review contains the proceedings of an all-India seminar held in Delhi in April 1986 and organised by six groups including the Delhi Science Forum and the FMRAI— the joint publishers of the book. Although the participants were a distinguished array of representatives of the Indian Medical Association, doctors, scientists, medical representatives, peoples' science movements, women's organisations and non-government organisations engaged in health care activities, the attendance was just